Sunday, August 29, 2010

something better, pt. 2

Noticed this in the bookstore today.  Timely.  (see previous post)

Creation gives us another such glimpse of God's glory.  I left out this example yesterday, but it's incredibly powerful.  It's just a slice of what's to come;  when our physical existence here on earth is redeemed, and we see Him face-to-face.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what was made, so that men are without excuse." [Rom. 1:20]

Saturday, August 28, 2010

heaven on earth.

Do you ever feel really, really lucky to be alive?

Could be at that perfect concert, right before the band comes out.  The anticipation is thick, and you get just a brief second to feel grateful that you're there.

Could be the moment you realize just how much a friend means to you.  Maybe you haven't seen them in a long time, but you notice them do that one thing that only they do, and a flood of memories rushes back.  You get this happy, tickling feeling just remembering that you know them so well.

Have you ever been around a dog when a gust of wind blows by?  He'll stick his nose into the air, taking in all the fresh smells.  You can see it when he's hanging out the window of a moving car, too.  It's almost like he's trying to get the most out of that moment of life--not missing even a single scent.

We love these moments because they give us a tangible connection to something bigger than ourselves.  Whether we find it through a good pint, a good view, or a good conversation, we love this feeling of "living life to the full."  We're getting such a sweet taste of a better life.

I love Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, because he makes a request for this very fullness of life.  He doesn't want to manufacture this feeling through substance abuse or thrill-seeking, nor will he wait around for the next random moment to come his way.  He knows the Lord is the only source of true life, and responds accordingly.

"...that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  [Eph. 3:19]

But how?  There's so much pain and hurt in the world, and if we're really honest with ourselves, we all contribute to the brokenness around us.  How possibly can we be filled with this fullness?

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me HAS eternal life and will not be condemned;  he HAS CROSSED over from death to life."  [Jn. 5:24]

Present tense.

Believing that Jesus is the son of God redeems your soul, and God lives within you in all His fullness.  You have eternal life at that moment.  Our time on earth will still feel the curse of sin, but that too will one day be redeemed. 

I'm broken, you're broken--hope in Jesus Christ is a hope in He who ordains all of those moments we love about life.  Not only that, but even more than we can ask or imagine. [Eph. 3:20]

So the next time you catch yourself saying "it's like heaven on earth!" you might be closer to the truth than you think.

I confess this to you.

I have been treating fund development as a "functional savior." 

This summer, as I raise funds to do college ministry with InterVarsity, my hope and prayer has been reaching the point of being "fully-funded."  Naturally, that term means I've raised my entire operating budget for next year.  The problem is that I've put this goal in such a place of prominence in my life, that it has often replaced my true hope found in Jesus.

I've even gone so far as to establish this as a "functional heaven"--a place or ideal which translates to paradise, peace, comfort, and completeness.  I've anticipated reaching my goal of being fully-funded and finding worth.  That disgusts me to read, typed-out here.  I'm not going to erase it now.  It's been embarrassingly true this week, and I want to face it.

Well then, how does one get to such a heaven?  By way of a Savior.  

This process of fund development has become the functional savior on which I've started to place all my hope, energy, satisfaction, and even identity.

Earlier in the summer, I was doing FD pretty well.  Humility to myself, trust upon the Lord, and wonder at His incoming provision--this embodied my FD process.  Deuteronomy ch. 8 was crucial in keeping my perspective grounded in the reality of my situation.  It's not: "my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me" [v.17]  Not at all.  That verse comes in a passage that warns about forgetting God, and that's exactly what I've done.

Praise be to Him, for reeling me back in.

It was His word, not my own doing, that has called me into this place of contrast.  I see my own sinfulness against the truth of the great I AM, and that's not something we can see on our own, friends.  Here's how the Lord showed me.

"...apart from me you can do nothing." [Jn. 15:5b] 

I haven't been raising these funds.  I haven't been tuning people's hearts to have a vision and passion for my ministry.  The LORD has been at work.  I have only offered my best efforts of obedience to my calling, in faithfulness, and He is honoring those. 

All of the sudden, I feel like the little kid trying to help his dad cook breakfast.  I'm trying, probably even hurting his progress, but he's looking at me with love. [Jn. 10:21]

Since it was Scripture that brought me around--the true word of God--that's what I'm leaving with you.

"If you abide in me, and my word abides in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."  [Jn. 15:7-8]

May you and I stay soaked in the word, and may the Lord be glorified by the fruit he bears through us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"the stakes couldn't be higher"

Why do I want to do college ministry?  Where did this passion come from?  I'm not even going to answer this myself.  You get enough of my writing and rambling, so this morning you get to read someone else's words.  context: I was checking out the blog of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA and came across this excerpt in their most recent post.  They just purchased a new building within blocks of the University of Washington campus, and they're stoked.

See their vision.  Hear my passion.

(Excerpt from Mars Hill Church blog.  Read full article here)
This is Huge
The building will be home to our U-District Campus and is located mere blocks away from the University of Washington, one of the largest, most influential institutions on the West Coast.

Students come from around the globe to study at UW, representing over 100 countries. A permanent presence in the middle of this crossroad of cultures will allow us to take full advantage of the transitory nature of college life. We’re in a position to influence these kids for just a few short years before they go on to start families, build organizations, lead communities, and change the world.

When students graduate, they’re sent out to either build their own kingdom or live for Jesus’ name. A sense of urgency comes with the territory, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.